Aggie MacKenzie may be best known for the no-nonsense TV show How Clean is Your House? but, she says, she’s always been more interested in food than cleaning. Fair enough too. Speaking of fair, in 2009, Fairtrade supporter Aggie was sent by the Fairtrade Foundation and TV show GMTV to visit Fairtrade sugar and peanut producers in Malawi. She says she was struck by how prominent and optimistic the women farmers were. Closer to home, she has recently published her first collection of recipes: Aggie’s Family Cookbook.
Your favourite place to eat in London?
I do like the Modern Pantry (Clerkenwell). It’s so clever how Anna Hansen puts together the ingredients. The menu’s a bit pan-Asian, and there’s an element of surprise.
Your earliest London food memory?
In the seventies you used to buy fish once a week, and at that time coley was something you bought for the cat. Nowadays you see it on menus. But I’ve never eaten it – it’s the memory of associating it with catfood!
The best meal you’ve ever eaten in the capital?
Le Gavroche (Mayfair). It was pretty amazing. You can see why they charge so much. There were loads of courses, so I can’t remember what I had. You go out feeling replete and satisfied – and a lot poorer.
Your favourite food stall?
I like all of Stoke Newington Farmers’ Market. But the Turkish pancake (borek) stall is great. There’s also a man selling mushrooms, with a little gas burner, making baguettes with garlic and butter.
London’s best food bargain? (shop, café or restaurant)
Lahmacuns. There are lots of Turkish cafés around here, with wood-fired ovens. They roll dough out fresh, sprinkle it with minced lamb and herbs, put it in the oven for five minutes, stuff it with salad and roll it up. And it’s £1.50 – the Green Lanes equivalent of chips and curry sauce.
Your top tip for anyone looking to eat out ethically and sustainably in London?
I try to buy fruit and veg from the two local shops (Newington Green Fruit and Veg and its sister shop in Stoke Newington). For instance, I’ve been making gravadlax, and I can buy a big bunch of dill for a good price. You can buy exactly how much you want, it’s not wrapped in three layers of plastic.
If there was one thing you could change about food or eating in London, what would it be?
I’d like to see even more pop-up restaurants and food businesses. People are having a go and trying different things. It’s a bit of a democracy. It helps towards raising standards to buy food from people who go the extra mile, and cook because they love it.
What do you think could be the next big trend or issue in terms of sustainable food in London?
(Something we might see more of?) I saw ox cheeks for sale in Broadway Market. They looked very lean, but were very cheap. The seller said they needed longer cooking but they would be very sweet – and they were. And that’s the type of thing you can’t buy in a supermarket.
By Clare Hill